Tuesday, May 09, 2023

May is not a merry month

May is not a merry month

I'm coming to hate May.

I used to enjoy May; it seemed to me to be the month with the most flowers in bloom. But not anymore.

Next week is three years since my wife, Donna, died. I like to say that she died in "the COVID spring" even though it wasn't from COVID. Instead, it was from a massive bacterial infection that her compromised immune system (diabetes, heart condition) could not fight off. In about 11 hours it went from "I don't feel well" to "I'm sorry, your wife has passed."

And now May, this day in May, has taken Helios.

Helios was 15 years old and some indeterminate mixture of hound and Jack Russell terrier. He was, as were seven of the nine dogs I've had as an adult, a rescue. (The others were puppies gifted from litters.) And he was, by as universal an agreement as such a thing ever is, the sweetest dog people had ever met. Sweet not only with people but with squirrels, deer, cats, and other dogs.

He'd been failing for some time, which was not unexpected considering his age. The usual frailties: couldn't get around as easily, had to occasionally be carried up or down the porch stairs, had to wear doggy diapers, that sort of thing. But to the end he liked being outside and loved attention and as long as he continued to appear to enjoy life I would deal with the hassles.

But today, today, he hit the wall. He could not stand up, he just lay sprawled on his side with his legs out straight. He refused to drink or eat (even his treats) and seemed to drift in and out of awareness of our presence. It was his time. So I called the vet and had the deed done.

"The deed." What do you call that? "Killed," which is literally true, is too harsh for me to deal with. "Put to sleep" is dumb: He's not asleep, he's dead. And I really, really despise "put down." He was a 13-year companion, not a goddam suitcase, some sort of burden I'm glad to be rid of.

Which leaves me with "euthanized," which I use for lack of a better term, even though it seems so coldly clinical.

And now, no more expense for dog food or treats or new collars or whatever, no vet bills, no dealing with wet diapers or messes on floors, no more having to go out in the snow or pouring rain. Like the song says, I really should be glad but, well..,

No. I'm really really not.

I really am coming to hate May.

When Someone Tells You Who They Are, Believe Them The First Time

 When Someone Tells You Who They Are, Believe Them The First Time

The title of this post is a quote from Maya Angelou that seems especially appropriate these days, and I'm reminded of a letter-to-the-editor I wrote some time ago in response to a syndicated column by George Will, at the time regarded as pretty much the definition of a right-wing intellectual.

"Some time ago," indeed: The date of the letter is January 3, 1995. This is the unedited text:

To George Will (Boston Globe, January 2) goes the honor of being called an honest man. Cutting through the nonsense of Newt and company, he opens the heart of his cohorts' agenda: "'Back to 1900,'" he says, "is a serviceable summation of the conservatives' goal."

"Back to 1900." Back to a time before legal labor unions or effective anti-monopoly laws, a time of child labor and twelve-hour work days. Back to a time before consumer or environmental protection laws, before regulations requiring safe working conditions, a time when being killed at work was a major cause of death. A time before Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment or disability insurance.

"Back to 1900." Back to when poor people were considered genetic defectives who deserved their condition. Back before civil or voting rights laws, when wives were chattel, blacks were either "good n*****s" who got called "boy" or "uppity "n*****s" who risked being lynched, when racism (against Irish, Italians, and others as well as blacks) was institutionalized, sexism the norm, and gays and lesbians, as far as "polite society" was concerned, didn't exist.

Back, in short, to a time when the elite were in their mansions and the rest of us were expected to know our places, live lives of servitude without complaint, and then die without making a fuss. "Back to 1900" is indeed "a serviceable summation" of the right-wing's goal, which is to undo a century of progress toward economic and social justice in order to selfishly benefit their morally stunted lives.

And if anyone thinks I'm too harsh, remember that Will's "summation" was offered as a moderate alternative to Christopher DeMuth of the American Enterprise Institute, who proposed we "go back to the Articles of Confederation and start over." One wonders what, given the chance, they'd do with the Bill of Rights.
They told us. Believe them.

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